"Then." When? Here, as I have often said, the word, "then,"
relates not to the connection in order of time with the things before mentioned.
At least, when He was minded to express the connection of time, He added,
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days," but here not so, but,
"then," not meaning what should follow straightway after these things,
but what should be in the time, when these things were to be done, of which
He was about to speak. So also when it is said, "In those days cometh John
the Baptist," he is not speaking of the time that should straightway follow,
but that many years after, and that in which these things were done, of
which He was about to speak. For, in fact, having spoken of the birth of
Jesus, and of the coming of the magi, and of the death of Herod, He at
once saith, "In those days cometh John the Baptist;" although thirty years
had intervened. But this is customary in the Scripture, I mean, to use
this manner of narration. So then here also, having passed over all the
intermediate time from the taking of Jerusalem unto the preludes of the
consummation, He speaketh of the time just before the consummation. "Then,"
He saith therefore, "if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ,
or there, believe it not."
Awhile He secures them by the place, mentioning the distinguishing marks
of His second coming, and the indications of the deceivers. For not, as
when at His former coming He appeared in Bethlehem, and in a small corner
of the world, and no one knew Him at the beginning, so doth He say it shall
be then too; but openly and with all circumstance, and so as not to need
one to tell these things. And this is no small sign that He will not come
But mark how here He saith nothing of war (for He is interpreting the
doctrine concerning His advent), but of them that attempt to deceive. For
some in the days of the apostles deceived the multitude, "for they shall
come," saith He, "and shall deceive many;" and others shall do so before
His second coming, who shall also be more grievous than the former. "For
they shall show," He saith, "signs and wonders, so as to deceive if possible
the very elect:" here He is speaking of Antichrist, and indicates that
some also shall minister to him. Of him Paul too speaks on this wise. Having
called him "man of sin," and "son of perdition," He added, "Whose coming
is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders;
and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish."
And see how He secures them; "Go not forth into the deserts, enter not
into the secret chambers." He did not say, "Go, and do not believe;" but,
"Go not forth, neither depart thither." For great then will be the deceiving,
because that even deceiving miracles are wrought.
3. Having told them how Antichrist cometh, as, for instance, that it
will be in a place; He saith how Himself also cometh. How then doth He
Himself come? "As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even
unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For wheresoever
the carcase is, there also will the eagles be gathered together."
How then shineth the lightning? It needs not one to talk of it, it needs
not a herald, but even to them that sit in houses, and to them in chambers
it shows itself in an instant of time throughout the whole world. So shall
that coming be, showing itself at once everywhere by reason of the shining
forth of His glory. But He mentions also another sign, "where the carcase
is, there also shall the eagles be;" meaning the multitude of the angels,
of the martyrs, of all the saints.
Then He tells of fearful prodigies. What are these prodigies? "Immediately
after the tribulation of those days," saith He, "the sun shall be darkened."
Of the tribulation of what days doth He speak? Of those of Antichrist and
of the false prophets? For there shall be great tribulation, there being
so many deceivers. But it is not protracted to a length of time. For if
the Jewish war was shortened for the elect's sake, much more shall this
temptation be limited for these same's sake. Therefore, He said not, "after
the tribulation," but Immediately "after the tribulation of those days
shall the sun be darkened," for almost at the same time all things come
to pass. For the false prophets and false Christs shall come and cause
confusion, and immediately He Himself will be here. Because no small turmoil
is then to prevail over the world.
But how doth He come? The very creation being then transfigured, for
"the sun shall be darkened," not destroyed, but overcome by the light of
His presence; and the stars shall fall, for what shall be the need of them
thenceforth, there being no night? and "the powers of Heaven shall be shaken,"
and in all likelihood, seeing so great a change come to pass. For if when
the stars were made, they trembled and marvelled ("for when the stars were
made, all angels," it is said, "praised Me with a loud voice"); much more
seeing all things in course of change, and their fellow servants giving
account, and the whole world standing by that awful judgment-seat, and
those who have lived from Adam unto His coming, having an account demanded
of them of all that they did, how shall they but tremble, and be shaken?
"Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven;" that is, the
cross being brighter than the sun, since this last will be darkened, and
hide himself, and that will appear when it would not appear, unless it
were far brighter than the beams of the sun. But wherefore doth the sign
appear? In order that the shamelessness of the Jews may be more abundantly
silenced. For having the cross as the greatest plea, Christ thus cometh
to that judgment-seat, showing not His wounds only, but also the death
of reproach. "Then shall the tribes mourn," for there shall be no need
of an accusation, when they see the cross; and they shall mourn, that by
His death they are nothing benefited; because they crucified Him whom they
ought to have adored.
Seest thou how fearfully He has pictured His coming? how He has stirred
up the spirits of His disciples? For this reason, let me add, He puts the
mournful things first, and then the good things, that in this way also
He may comfort and refresh them. And of His passion He suggests to them
the remembrance, and of His resurrection, and with a display of glory,
He mentions His cross, so that they may not be ashamed nor grieve, whereas
indeed He cometh then setting it forth for His sign. And another saith,
"They shall look on Him whom they pierced." Therefore it is that they shall
mourn, when they see that this is He.
And forasmuch as He had made mention of the cross, He added, "They
shall see the Son of Man coming," no longer on the cross, but "in
the clouds of Heaven, with power and great glory."
For think not, He meaneth, because thou hearest of the cross, that it
is again anything mournful, for He shall come with power and great glory.
But He bringeth it, that their sin may be self-condemned, as if any one
who had been struck by a stone, were to show the stone itself, or his garments
stained with blood. And He cometh in a cloud as He was taken up, and the
tribes seeing these things mourn. Not however that the terrors shall with
them proceed no further than mournings; but the mourning shall be, that
they may bring forth their sentence from within, and condemn themselves.
And then again, "He will send His angels with a great trumpet, and
they shall gather the elect from the four winds, from one end of Heaven
to the other."
But when thou hast heard of this, consider the punishment of them that
remain. For neither shall they suffer that former penalty only, but this
too. And as above He said, that they should say, "Blessed is He that cometh
in the name of the Lord," so here, that they shall mourn. For since He
had spoken unto them of grievous wars, that they might learn, that together
with the fearful things here, the torments there also await them, He brings
them in mourning and separated from the elect, and consigned to hell; by
this again rousing the disciples, and indicating from how many evils they
should be delivered, and how many good things they shall enjoy.
5. And why now doth He call them by angels, if He comes thus openly?'
To honor them in this way also. But Paul saith, that they "shall be caught
up in clouds." And He said this also, when He was speaking concerning a
resurrection. "For the Lord Himself," it is said, "shall descend from Heaven
with a shout, with the voice of an archangel." So that when risen again,
the angels shall gather them together, when gathered together the clouds
shall catch them up; and all these things are done in a moment, in an instant.
For it is not that He abiding above calleth them, but He Himself cometh
with the sound of a trumpet. And what mean the trumpets and the sound?
They are for arousing, for gladness, to set forth the amazing nature of
the things then doing, for grief to them that are left.
Woe is me for that fearful day! For though we ought to rejoice when
we hear these things, we feel pain, and are dejected, and our countenance
is sad. Or is it I only that feel thus, and do ye rejoice at hearing of
these things? For upon me at least there comes a kind of shudder when these
things are said, and I lament bitterly, and groan from the very depth of
my heart. For I have no part in these things, but in those that are spoken
afterwards, that are said unto the virgins, unto him mat buried the talents
he had received, unto the wicked servant. For this cause I weep, to think
from what glory we are to be cast out, from what hope of blessings, and
this perpetually, and forever, to spare ourselves a little labor. For if
indeed this were a great toil, and a grievous law, we ought even so to
do all things; nevertheless many of the remiss would seem to have at least
some pretext, a poor pretext indeed, yet would they seem to have some,
that the toil was great, and the time endless, and the burden intolerable;
but now we can put forward no such objection; which circumstance most of
all will gnaw us no less than hell at that time, when for want of a slight
endeavor, and a little toil, we shall have lost Heaven, and the unspeakable
blessings. For both the time is short, and the labor small, and yet we
faint and are supine. Thou strivest on earth, and the crown is in Heaven;
thou art punished of men, and art honored of God; the race is for two days,
and the reward for endless ages; the struggle is a corruptible body, and
the rewards in an incorruptible.
And apart from these things, we should consider another point also,
that even if we do not choose to suffer any of the things that are painful
for Christ's sake, we must in other ways most assuredly endure them. For
neither, though thou shouldest not have died for Christ, wilt thou be immortal;
neither though thou shouldest not have cast away thy riches for Christ,
wilt thou go away hence with them. These things He requires of thee, which
although He should not require them, thou wilt have to give up, because
thou art mortal; He willeth thee to do these by thy choice, which thou
must do by necessity. So much only He requires to be added, that it be
done for His sake; since that these things befall men and pass away, cometh
to pass of natural necessity. Seest thou how easy the conflict? What it
is altogether necessary for thee to suffer, that choose to suffer for my
sake; let this only be added, and I have sufficient obedience. The gold
which thou intendest to lend to another, this lend to me, both at more
profit, and in greater security. Thy body, wherewith thou art going to
warfare for another, make it to war for me, for indeed I surpass thy toils
with recompenses in the most abundant excess. Yet thou in all other matters
preferrest him that giveth thee more as well in loans, as in marketing
and in warfare; but Christ alone, when giving more, and infinitely more
than all, thou dost not receive. And what is this so great hostility? What
is this so great enmity? Where will there be any excuse or defense left
for thee, when the reasons for which thou preferrest man to man avail not
to induce thee to prefer God to man?
Why dost thou commit thy treasure to the earth? "Give it into my hand,"
He saith. Doth not the earth's Lord seem to thee more worthy of trust than
the earth? This indeed restoreth that which thou laidest in it, though
oftentimes not even this, but He gives thee also recompense for His keeping
of it? For indeed He doth exceedingly love us. Therefore if thou shouldest
wish to lend, He stands ready; or to sow, He receives it; or if thou shouldest
wish to build, He draws thee unto Himself, saying, Build in my regions.
Why runnest thou unto poor, unto beggarly men, who also for little gains
occasion thee great trouble? Nevertheless, not even on hearing these things,
do we make up our minds to it, but where are fightings and wars, and wild
struggles, and trials and suits of law, and false accusations, thither
do we hasten.
5. Doth He not justly turn away from us, and punish us, when He is giving
up Himself unto us for all things, and we are resisting Him? It is surely
plain to all. For whether thou art desirous to adorn thyself, "Let it,
He saith, be with my ornaments;" or to arm thyself, "with my arms," or
to clothe thyself, "with my raiment;" or to feed thyself, "at my table;"
or to journey, "on my way;" or to inherit, "my inheritance;" or to enter
into a country, "the city of which I am builder and maker;" or to build
a house, "amongst my tabernacles." "For I, so far from asking thee for
a recompense of the things that I give thee, to even make myself owe thee
a recompense for this very thing, if thou be willing to use all I have."
What can be equal to this munificence, "I am Father, I am brother, I am
bridegroom, I am dwelling place, I am food, I am raiment, I am root, I
am foundation, all whatsoever thou wiliest, I am." "Be thou in need of
nothing, I will be even a servant, for I came to minister, not to be ministered
unto; I am friend, and member, and head, and brother, and sister, and mother;
I am all; only cling thou closely to me. I was poor for thee, and a wanderer
for thee, on the cross for thee, in the tomb for thee, above I intercede
for thee to the Father; on earth I am come for thy sake am ambassador from
my Father. Thou art all things to me, brother, and joint heir, and friend,
and member." What wouldest thou more? Why dost thou turn away from Him,
who loveth thee? Why dost thou labor for the world? Why dost thou draw
water into a broken cistern? For it is this to labor for the present life.
Why dost thou comb wool into the fire? Why dost thou "beat the air?" Why
dost thou "run in vain?"
Hath not every art an end? It is surely plain to every one. Do thou
also show the end of thy worldly eagerness. But thou canst not; for, "yanity
of vanities, all is vanity." Let us go to the tombs; show me thy father;
show me thy wife. Where is he that was clad in raiment of gold? he that
rode in the chariot? he that had armies, that had the girdle, that had
the heralds? he that was slaying these, and casting those into prison?
he that put to death whom he would, and set free whom he was minded? I
see nothing but bones, and a worm, and a spider's web; all those things
are earth, all those a fable, all a dream, and a shadow, and a bare relation,
and a picture, or rather not so much as a picture. For the picture we see
at least in a likeness, but here not so much as a likeness.
And would that the evils stop with this. For now the honor, and the
luxury, and the distinction, end with a shadow, with words; but the consequences
of them, are no longer limited to a shadow and to words, but continue,
and will pass over with us elsewhere, and will be manifest to all, the
rapine, the covetousness, the fornications, the adulteries, the dreadful
things beyond number; these not in similitude, neither in ashes, but written
above, both words and deeds.
With what eyes then shall we behold Christ? For if any one could not
bear to see his father, when conscious to himself that he had sinned against
him, upon Him who infinitely exceeds a father in forbearance how shall
we then look? how shall we bear it? For indeed we shall stand at Christ's
judgment-seat, and there will be a strict inquiry into all things.
But if any man disbelieve the judgments to come, let him look at the
things here, at those in the prisons, those in the mines, those on the
dunghills, the possessed, the frantic, them that are struggling with incurable
diseases, those that are fighting against continual poverty, them that
live in famine, them that are pierced with irremediable woes, those in
captivity. For these persons would not suffer these things here, unless
vengeance and punishments were to await all the others also that have committed
such sins. And if the rest have undergone nothing here, you ought to regard
this very fact as a sign that there is surely something to follow after
our departure here. For the self-same God of all would not take vengeance
on some, and leave others unpunished, who have committed the same or more
grievous offenses, unless He designed to bring some punishments upon them
By these arguments then and these examples let us also humble ourselves;
and let them who are obstinate unbelievers of the judgment believe it henceforth,
and become better men; that having lived here in a manner worthy of the
kingdom, we may attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love
towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.
Matthew Chapter 24, Verse 32 And Matthew Chapter 24, Verse 33
"Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender,
and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye,
when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors."
Forasmuch as He had said, "Immediately after the tribulation of those
days;" but they sought of this, after how long a time it should be, and
desired to know in particular the very day, therefore He puts also the
similitude of the fig tree, indicating that the interval was not great,
but that in quick succession would occur His advent also. And this He declared
not by the parable alone, but by the words that follow, saying, "know that
it is near, even at the doors."
Whereby He foretells another thing also, a spiritual summer, and a calm
that should be on that day (after the present tempest) for the righteous;
but to the sinners the contrary, winter after summer, which He declares
in what follows, saying, that the day shall come upon them, when they are
living in luxury
But not for this intent only did He put forward this about the fig tree,
in order to declare the interval; for it was possible to have set this
before them in other ways as well; but that he might hereby also confirm
His saying, as assuredly thus to come to pass. For as this of the fig tree
is of necessity, so that too. For thus, wherever He is minded to speak
of that which will assuredly come to pass, He brings forward the necessary
courses of nature, both Himself, and the blessed Paul imitating Him. Therefore
also when speaking of His resurrection, He saith, "When the corn of wheat
hath fallen into the earth, except it die, it abideth alone; but if it
die, it bringeth forth much fruit." Whereby also the blessed Paul being
instructed uses the same similitude, "Thou fool," he saith, "that which
thou sowest is not quickened, except it die."
After this, that they might not straightway return to it again, and
say, "When?" he brings to their remembrance the things that had been said,
saying, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all
these things be fulfilled!" All these things. What things? I pray thee.
Those about Jerusalem, those about the wars, about the famines, about the
pestilences, about the earthquakes, about the false Christs, about the
false prophets, about the sowing of the gospel everywhere, the seditions,
the tumults, all the other things, which we said were to occur until His
coming. How then, one may ask, did He say, "This generation?" Speaking
not of the generation then living, but of that of the believers. For He
is wont to distinguish a generation not by times only, but also by the
mode of religious service, and practice; as when He saith, "This is the
generation of them that seek the Lord."
For what He said above, "All these must come to pass," and again, "the
gospel shall be preached," this He declares here also, saying, All these
things shall surely come to pass, and the generation of the faithful shall
remain, cut off by none of the things that have been mentioned. For both
Jerusalem shall perish, and the more part of the Jews shall be destroyed,
but over this generation shall nothing prevail, not famine, not pestilence,
not earthquake, nor the tumults of wars, not false Christs, not false prophets,
not deceivers, not traitors, not those that cause to offend, not the false
brethren, nor any other such like temptation whatever.
Then to lead them on more in faith, He saith, "Heaven and earth shall
pass away, but my words shall not pass away;" that is, it were more easy
for these firm, fixed, and immoveable bodies to be blotted out, than for
ought of my words to fall to the ground. And he who gainsays these things,
let him test His sayings, and when he hath found them true (for so he surely
will find them) from what is past, let him believe also the things to come,
and let him search out all things with diligence, and he will see the actual
events bearing witness to the truth of the prophecy. And the elements He
hath brought forward, at once to declare, that the church is of more honor
than Heaven and earth, and at the same time to indicate Himself by this
also to be maker of all. For since He was speaking of the end, a thing
disbelieved by many, He brought forward Heaven and earth, indicating His
unspeakable power, and showing with great authority, that He is Lord of
all, and by these things rendering His sayings deserving of credit, even
with those who are much given to doubt.
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of Heaven,
neither the Son, but the Father." By saying, not the angels, He stopped
their mouths, that they should not seek to learn what these angels know
not; and by saying, "neither the Son," forbids them not only to learn,
but even to inquire. For in proof that therefore He said this, see after
His resurrection, when He saw they were become over curious, how He stopped
their mouths more decidedly. For now indeed He hath mentioned infallible
signs, many and endless; but then He saith merely, "It is not for you to
know times or seasons." And then that they might not say, we are driven
to perplexity, we are utterly scorned, we are not held worthy so much as
of this, He says, "which the Father hath put in His own power." And this,
because He was exceedingly careful to honor them, and to conceal nothing
from them. Therefore He refers it to His Father, both to make the thing
awful, and to exclude that of which He had spoken from their inquiry. Since
if it be not this, but He is ignorant of it, when will He know it? Will
it be together with us? But who would say this? And the Father He knoweth
clearly, even as clearly as He knoweth the Son; and of the day is He ignorant?
Moreover, "the Spirit indeed searcheth even the deep things of God," and
doth not He know so much as the time of the judgment? But how He ought
to judge He knoweth, and of the secrets of each He hath a full perception;
and what is far more common than that, of this could He be ignorant? And
how, if "all things were made by Him, and without Him was not even one
thing made," was He ignorant of the day? For He who made the worlds, it
is quite plain that He made the times also; and if the times, even that
day. How then is He ignorant of that which He made?
2. And ye indeed say that ye know even His substance, but that the Son
not even the day, the Son, who is always in the bosom of the Father; and
yet His substance is much greater than the days, even infinitely greater.
How then, while assigning to yourselves the greater things, do you not
allow even the less to the Son, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom
and knowledge." But neither do you know what God is in His substance, though
ten thousand times ye talk thus madly, neither is the Son ignorant of the
day, but is even in full certainty thereof.
For this cause, I say, when He had told all things, both the times and
the seasons, and had brought it to the very doors ("for it is near," He
saith, "even at the doors"), He was silent as to the day. For if thou seek
after the day and hour, thou shall not hear them of me, saith He; but if
of times and preludes, without hiding anything, I will tell thee all exactly.
For that indeed I am not ignorant of it, I have shown by many things;
having mentioned intervals, and all the things that are to occur, and how
short from this present time until the day itself (for this did the parable
of the fig tree indicate), and I lead thee to the very vestibule; and if
I do not open unto thee the doors, this also I do for your good.
And that thou mayest learn by another thing also, that the silence is
not a mark of ignorance on His part, see, together with what we have mentioned,
how He sets forth another sign also. "But as in the days of Not they were
eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that
the flood came, and took all away; so shall also the coming of the Son
of Man be." And these things He spake, showing that He should come on a
sudden, and unexpectedly, and when the more part were living luxuriously.
For Paul too saith this, writing on this wise, "When they shall speak of
peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them;" and to show
how unexpected, He said, "as travail upon a woman with child." How then
doth He say, "after the tribulation of those days?" For if there be luxury
then, and peace, and safety, as Paul saith, how doth He say, "after the
tribulation of those days?" If there be luxury, how is there tribulation?
Luxury for them that are in a state of insensibility and peace. Therefore
He said not, when there is peace, but "when they speak of peace and safety,"
indicating their insensibility to be such as of those in Noah's time, for
that amid such evils they lived in luxury.
But not so the righteous, but they were passing their time in tribulation
and dejection. Whereby He shows, that when Antichrist is come, the pursuit
of unlawful pleasures shall be more eager among the transgressors, and
those that have learnt to despair of their own salvation. Then shall be
gluttony, then revellings, and drunkenness. Wherefore also most of all
He puts forth an example corresponding to the thing For like as when the
ark was making, they believed not, saith He; but while it was set in the
midst of them, proclaiming beforehand the evils that are to come, they,
when they saw it, lived in pleasure, just as though nothing dreadful were
about to take place; so also now, Antichrist indeed shall appear, after
whom is the end, and the punishments at the end, and vengeance intolerable;
but they that are held by the intoxication of wickedness shall not so much
as perceive the dreadful nature of the things that are on the point of
being done. Wherefore also Paul saith, "as travail upon a woman with child,"
even so shall those fearful and incurable evils come upon them.
And wherefore did He not speak of the ills in Sodom? It was His will
to introduce an example embracing all men, and disbelieved after it was
foretold. So therefore, as by the more part the things to come are disbelieved,
He confirms those things by the past, terrifying their minds. And together
with the points I have mentioned, He shows this also, that of the former
things also He was the doer. Then again He sets another sign, by all which
things He makes it evident, that He is not ignorant of the day. And what
is the sign? "Then shall two be in the field; one shall be taken, and one
left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill, one shall be taken, and
one left. Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."
And all these things are both proofs that He knew, and calculated to turn
them from their inquiry. So for this cause He spake also of the days of
Not, for this cause He said too, "Two shall be on the bed," signifying
this, that He should come upon them thus unexpectedly, when they were thus
without thought, and "two women grinding at the mill," which also of itself
is not the employment of them that are taking thought.
And together with this, He declares that as well servants as masters
should be both taken and left, both those who are at ease, and those in
toil, as well from the one rank as from the other; even as in the Old Testament
He saith, "From him that sitteth upon the throne to the captive woman that
is at the mill." For since He had said, that hardly are the rich saved,
He shows that not even these are altogether lost, neither are the poor
saved all of them, but both out of these and out of those are men saved,
And to me He seems to declare, that at night will be the advent. For
this Luke too saith. Seest thou how accurately He knows all things?
After this again, that they may not ask about it, He added, "Watch therefore,
for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." He said not, "I know not,"
but, "ye know not." For when He had brought them well nigh to the very
hour, and had placed them there, again He deters them from the inquiry,
from a desire that they should be striving always. Therefore He saith,
"Watch," showing that for the sake of this, He did not tell it.
"But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what
watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered
his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour
as ye think not the Son of Man cometh."
For this intent He tells them not, in order that they may watch, that
they may be always ready; therefore He saith, When ye look not for it,
then He will come, desiring that they should be anxiously waiting, and
continually. in virtuous action.
But His meaning is like this: if the common sort of men knew when they
were to die, they would surely strive earnestly at that hour.
3. In order therefore that they may strive, not at that hour only, therefore
He tells them not either the common hour, or the hour of each, desiring
them to be ever looking for this, that they may be always striving. Wherefore
He made the end of each man's life also uncertain.
After this, He openly calls Himself Lord, having nowhere spoken so distinctly.
But here He seems to me also to put to shame the careless, that not even
as much care as they that expect a thief have taken for their money, not
even this much do these take for their own soul. For they indeed, when
they expect it, watch, and suffer none of the things in their house to
be carried off; but ye, although knowing that He will come, and come assuredly,
continue not watching, saith He, and ready so as not to be carried away
hence unprepared. So that the day cometh unto destruction for them that
sleep. For as that man, if he had known, would have escaped, so also ye,
if ye be ready, escape free.
Then, as He had fallen upon the mention of the judgment, He directs
His discourse to the teachers next, speaking of punishment and honors;
and having put first them that do right, He ends with them that continue
in sin, making His discourse to close with that which is alarming.
Wherefore He first saith this, "Who then is the faithful and wise servant,
whom his Lord shall set over His household to give them their meat in theirs
due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall
find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that He shall make him ruler over
all His goods."
Tell me, is this too the language of one who is in ignorance? For if
because He said, "neither doth the Son know," thou sayest He is ignorant
of it; as He saith, "who then?" what wilt thou say? Wilt thou say He is
ignorant of this too? Away with the thought. For not even one of them that
are frantic would say this. And yet in the former case one might assign
a cause; but here not even this. And what when He said, "Peter, lovest
thou me?" asking it, knew He not so much as this? nor when He said, "Where
have ye laid Him?"
And the Father too will be found to be saying such things. For He Himself
likewise saith, "Adam, where art thou?" and, "The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah
is waxed great before me. I will go down therefore, and see whether their
doings be according to their cry which cometh unto me, and if not, I will
know." And elsewhere He saith, "Whether they will hear, whether they will
understand." And in the gospel too, "It may be they will reverence my Son:"
all which are expressions of ignorance. But not in ignorance did He say
these things, but as compassing objects such as became Him: in the case
of Adam, that He might drive him to make an excuse for his sin: in that
of the Sodomites, that He might teach us never to be positive, till we
are present at the very deeds; in that of the prophet, that the prediction
might not appear in the judgment of the foolish a kind of compulsion to
disobedience; and in the parable in the gospel, that He might show that
they ought to have done this, and to have reverenced the Son: but here,
as well that they may not be curious, nor over busy again, as that He might
indicate that this was a rare and precious thing. And see of what great
ignorance this saying is indicative, if at least He know not even him that
is set over. For He blesses him indeed, "For blessed," saith He, "is that
servant;" but He saith not who this is. "For who is he," He saith, "whom
His Lord shall set over?" and, "Blessed is he whom He shall find so doing."
But these things are spoken not of money only, but also of speech, and
of power, and of gifts, and of every stewardship, wherewith each is entrusted.
This parable would suit rulers in the state also, for every one is bound
to make full use of what he hath for the common advantage. If it be wisdom
thou hast, if power, if wealth, if what it may, let it not be for the hurt
of thy fellow-servants, neither for thine own ruin. For this cause, therefore,
He requires both things of him, wisdom, and fidelity: for sin arises from
folly also. He calls him faithful then, because he hath purloined nothing,
neither misspent his Lord's goods without aim or fruit; and wise, because
he knew how to dispense the things given him, according as was fit. For
indeed we have need of both things, as well not to purloin the goods of
our Master, as also to dispense them as is fit. But if the one be wanting,
the other halteth. For if he be faithful and steal not, yet were to waste
and to spend upon that which concerned him not, great were the blame; and
if he should know how to dispense it well, yet were to purloin, again there
is no common charge against him.
And let us also that have money listen to these things. For not unto
teachers only doth He discourse, but also unto the rich. For either sort
were entrusted with riches; those that teach with the more necessary wealth,
ye with what is inferior. When then at the time that the teachers are scattering
abroad the greater, ye are not willing to show forth your liberality even
in the less, or rather not liberality but honesty (for ye give the things
of another), what excuse will you have? But now, before the punishment
of them that do the contrary things, let us hear the honor of him that
approveth himself. "For verily I say unto you, He will set him over all
What can be equal to this honor? what manner of speech will be able
to set forth the dignity, the blessedness, when the King of Heaven, He
that possesseth all things, is about to set a man over "all His goods?"
Wherefore also He calleth him wise, because he knew, not to give up great
things for small, but having been temperate here, hath attained to Heaven.
4. After this, as He ever doth, not by the honor only laid up for the
good, but also by the punishment threatened against the wicked, doth He
correct the hearers. Wherefore also He added, "But and if the evil servant
say in his heart, my Lord delayeth His coming; and shall begin to smite
his fellow servants, and shall eat and drink with the drunken: the Lord
of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for Him, and in
an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and shall appoint
him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing
But if any one should say, "Seest thou what a thought hath entered into
his mind, because of the day's not being known, "my Lord," he saith, "delayeth
His coming?" we should affirm, that it was not because the day is not known,
but because the servant is evil. Else wherefore came not this thought into
the heart of the faithful and wise servant. For what, even though the Lord
tarry, O wretched man, surely thou lookest that He will come. Why then
dost thou not take care?
Hence then we learn, that He cloth not so much as tarry. For this judgment
is not the Lord's, but that of the evil servant's mind, wherefore also
he is blamed for this. For in proof that He doth not tarry, hear Paul saying,
"The Lord is at hand, be careful for nothing;" and, "He that cometh will
come, and will not tarry."
But do thou hear also what followeth, and learn how continually He reminds
them of their ignorance of the day, showing that this is profitable to
the servants, and fitted to waken and thoroughly to rouse them. For what
though some gained nothing hereby? For neither by other things profitable
for them were some profited, but nevertheless He ceaseth not to do His